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A year in Japan

Why This

An adventure in a foreign land deserves constant updates for friends and family back home (Sweden and Europe).

Happy New Year

This is Different Posted on Sat, January 10, 2015 13:46:39

So Christmas passed by very quietly since it’s not that big of a deal here in Japan. Mainly it’s celebrated by eating a strawberry cake. On the other hand back in Sweden Christmas is a very big thing, specially the Christmas dinner.

This Christmas was however very different from what I have been used to. To begin with, due to the proposal to JAXA we were working on at the office, a meeting had been scheduled for the afternoon on Christmas eve. The meeting didn’t go on for too long though so in the early evening Karro and I were able to go to the local supermarket to buy food for our Christmas dinner. Non the wiser we were able to buy such a strawberry cake that is traditional for a Japanese Christmas dinner. This however we didn’t find out until a few days later. To this cake we had a nice bottle of bubbles.

For new years eve we had no idea what to do and we were not in a hurry to make any plans. In the end we decided to invite a colleague of mine who’s plans had fallen through at the last minute. So in a hurry we had to put together a new years eve dinner but we managed. It ended up being a great dinner and evening. So when the stroke of midnight arrived we celebrated and afterwards we went out to a local shrine just across the street from where I live.

At the shrine there was a bonfire and people came there to through stuff on the fire, and pray while the stuff burned. There are more pictures of this in the main gallery.
After having been at this shrine for a while we walked to a temple, also close by. People were burning stuff at this temple as well. But there was also bell-ringing going on. At this place there was a cave/tunnel in which there was a small shrine where one first gives a small money offering, then followed by ringing in a bell and finally clasping with the hands.
Though I have no idea what we made the offerings to or why. I just guess we’ll have to find out during 2015…

Wait, what?

This is Different Posted on Fri, October 24, 2014 11:07:32

So I arrived safely in Japan and have now spent a week settling in. I do however plan on being a bit more frequent in my writing than once per week though the jet-lag hit me hard this time.

The first thing that really made me realise that I’m in a very different place from safe, half sleeping Stockholm was the sight that waited for me when I got to my new desk:

Yes, it’s my own Riken hard hat. This is however not intended as a costume detail when singing Village people songs during the weekly karaoke party. No, this is in case of earthquakes. Definitely somewhat different working conditions as to what I’ve been used to for the last… ehh for my whole life.

My second insight for this week is the high-tech-iness of this country, or rather the lack thereof. To my mind the picture of Japan in the western world is a country filled to the rim by almost wondrous high-tech stuff. Yet when I went to the bank yesterday to open an account, I got this:

And for those of you who don’t know what this is, it’s a bankbook. A book to keep track of my bank account. Seriously, a bankbook?! What is this, the 20th century?? Although, to the banks defence I think I was able to get internet banking and such but not sure since I didn’t really take part of the conversation at the bank. The department secretary accompanied me there and did al the talking. So this could also be a big joke on the new guy… I’ve heard stories from this office about other practical jokes played on foreigners. I have actually manage to dodge the first attempt when they emailed me informing me of the mandatory Japanese test I would have to take at the end of the month.

Well, more to follow…